Tag Archives: R.E. Irvine

Interesting People –R. E. Irvine — The Story of a Bottle

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Interesting People –R. E. Irvine — The Story of a Bottle

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Photo-Adin Wesley Daigle

Our community Carleton Place archaeologist Adin Wesley Daigle posted this photo on Facebook and said it was his favourite bottle.  Not being a bottle collector I still had to agree and decided to investigate one R. E. Irvine from Ottawa. The bottle was great so I figured it must have a story!

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The only thing I could find out was that R. E Irvine was served a lawsuit in 1910 from the Sanitaris Co. in Ottawa. Well I knew who Sanitarius was as I had written about their affiliation to Diamond Park Mineral Water. Irvine bottled beer and other beverages like Lithia water. Lithia water is defined as a type of mineral water characterized by the presence of  lithium salts which he got from the Diamond Park and sold by Sanitarius. Natural lithia mineral spring waters are rare and between the 1880s and World War I, the consumption of bottled lithia mineral water was popular as well as the Mineral Water spas outside Pakenham. ( Diamond Springs and Dominion Springs).

Mr. Irvine also owned the local Ottawa Livery and Boarding Stable in Ottawa– but that is another story. Actually, it could be a series of stories from the vast amount of postings in the Ottawa newspapers.

As well as the waters business, R.E. Irvine purchased a high-end livery and riding stable in 1906. From the Citizen, April 26, 1906: Photo Jaan Kolk and information.

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
03 Feb 1910, Thu  •  Page 11

Diamond Park Mineral Water was world famous in its day, and it was located near Arnprior.  Among the components in the water were salt and sulphur and the water was said to have curative powers dealing with rheumatic problems, hangover headaches and an aid in flushing the kidneys. Diamond Park Springs was located on the edge of Pakenham Township in the late 1800s, but was flooded by Ontario Hydro when the dam was put in place at the head pond. At one point there was a 12-room hotel on site and proved to be a popular spa in its day. The plant was later sold to Sanitaris Ltd. who continued bottling water from their plant at the corner of John and William streets behind the current LCBO in Arnprior.

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Sanitaris Natural Mineral Water Building, Arnprior, Canada–Date: 1914 Location:
John Street, Arnprior, Ontario, Canada

By 1910 R. E. Irvine looks like he was no longer running his namesake company and was letting someone else run it. (Morel Bros. Aerated Waters?)  Sanitaris was taking him to court for the disappearance of “empties” as we kids used to say.  Irvine said that they had been returned — Sanitarius said he or his successor had not. Needless to say Mr. Irvine’s company was on the hook for a grand sum of $480 unless all was returned.

Jaan Kolk said: “Irvine was a businessman, who came likely came to Ottawa for a business opportunity and left for a better one”. (I don’t think the minor legal disputes were of any importance.)

Jaan Kolk our favourite historian  found this: Robert Irvine, mineral waters 359 Wellington, boarding at Butler House, is listed in the 1901 Ottawa City Directory, The business seems to have peaked around 1909, when it was at 200 Bay Street. Still there as Irvine in 1911, it was shown as Morel Bros. Aerated Waters in 1912. Here is an Ottawa Journal ad from May 18, 1909. (above)

After researching — no mention of the case was made in the media again except for this one above Jaan Kolk  found from 1900. This Ottawa Citizen note from Aug. 25, 1900 on a suit over Irvine’s use of the name “Hygeia Water” mentions he was formerly in Toronto.   So what was Hugeia Water? J.J. McLaughlin started out professional life as a druggist and eventually focused on what started out as a typical pharmacy sideline, making soda water, which he initially called Hygeia Waters, the Hygeia, being a play on the word hygiene. McLaughlin’s Hygeia Waters were based on a Belfast dry ginger ale recipe. The name was rebranded as the much more successful Canada Dry.

Meanwhile, the case from Sanitarius stated that “judgement was reserved”. Most often, the judge will reserve judgment which means that the judge will take some time – days, weeks, or even months – to consider the matter before issuing the judgment and  it is usually written though it may be delivered orally. In this case Irvine had left from the Ottawa area, but if you looked hard enough you would see what happened. By 1910 the ads for the Irvine Company had stopped in the Ottawa Journal and The Ottawa Citizen and Irvine was now– wait for this– in Vancouver.

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May 1909- Ottawa Citizen

In May of 1909 it looks like R. E. was preparing for a future elsewhere. First there was a massive auction sale at his home on Slater and Bay. In June of the same year he transferred some land from R. E. Irvine to R. Irvine Ltd. In 1910 R. E. Irvine had bought and was running Cross & Co.  in Vancouver. The business had been under various ownerships. Originally founded by Mr. Cross D. Gavinit, as Vancouver Soda Water Works in 1896. Then purchased by the late J. J. Banfield, who remained owner until he sold his interests to the late R. E. Irvine. R.E.’s son E. L. Irvine bought the business from him in 1917. 

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Early Circa. 1915-30s British Columbia Soda Siphon / Syphon Seltzer Bottles – Cross and Company Vancouver BC

In an ironic twist like every trade or profession, Irvine’s venture into the Cross & Co soda water business had its troubles just like Sanitarius did with the R. E. Irvine Company in Ottawa. One of the chief problems was maintaining the bottle supply. Bottles cost the company 7 cents each, and since a deposit of only 5 cents a bottle is charged, a loss of 2 cents was sustained on very bottle not returned.

“When the public consider these figures it will realize the benefit, both to the consumer and to ourselves, of returning all empty bottles,” Mr. Irvine said. “For every bottle returned the customer reduces the cost of his thirst-quenchers by five cents. For every bottle not returned we lost two cents.” The loss on bottles was so heavy that Cross & Co. had to purchase $3000 worth annually to maintain its supply. Is this what happened to the R. E. Irvine Co in Ottawa or, was it just for a better opportunity as Jaan Kolk said?

One thing is for sure Mr. R. E. Irvine never set foot back in Ottawa until 1918 and the couple was described in the news as having been residents of Ottawa until 1910 and of course Sanitarius never got their money for the empties.

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The Vancouver Sun
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
20 Oct 1928, Sat  •  Page 11

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Cross and Company Vancouver BC Then and Now.

Sanitaris

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 - The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
06 Jan 1898, Thu  •  Page 1

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